Besiktas is off to a perfect start in the Champions League, riding a group of has-beens and castoffs to surprising success.

By 90Min
September 28, 2017

Besiktas extended their perfect start to the 2017/18 Champions League group stage on Tuesday night with a solid 2-0 win over German upstarts RB Leipzig. That followed on from an impressive opening 3-1 win away at Porto, putting the Turkish champions comfortably top of Group G.

Stronger challenges may come against Monaco, semifinalists last season, but the principality club have so far struggled after seeing core parts of their team ripped out in the summer.

What is interesting about Besiktas' excellent start is the players with which they have done it - a collection of individuals one could argue look like a group of has-beens and cast offs.

Both domestically and in Europe, Ryan Babel has been the star of the show this season. Once billed as a superstar of the future, the former Liverpool lost his way somewhat and Besiktas is his sixth club since leaving Anfield six years ago.

Now 30-years of age, the Dutchman looks rejuvenated and has scored twice in two Champions League game to go with his three Super Lig goals this season.

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In terms of those who have been around the block but are now getting the job done in black and white, he isn't alone. Ex-Barcelona utility man Adriano joined the club last summer, while former Real Madrid center back Pepe arrived as free agent this summer.

Once a forerunner to Cristiano Ronaldo, 33-year-old Ricardo Quaresma appears to have found his feet in his second spell with Besiktas after returning in 2015. Veteran Canadian midfielder Atiba Hutchinson, meanwhile, is still going strong and is experienced as they come.

Chilean international Gary Medel joined from Inter before the start of the season, while Alvaro Negredo is yet to really get going after signing from Valencia. The Spanish striker has so far largely featured as a substitute but offers proven goalscoring.

Turkish international Caner Erkin is also back in Turkey after his failed spell in Italy.

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It isn't just older veterans doing jobs for Besiktas. The experience is cut with a handful of more exciting younger players. Dutch-born Oğuzhan Özyakup didn't make the grade as a youth player at Arsenal, only to go from strength to strength in Turkey, sometimes captaining the side.

He is only 25-years of age, two years older than Anderson Talisca, the Brazilian who has had plenty of people talking for a number of months. There was a time when he was linked with English Championship side Wolves because of Jorge Mendes' influence at the club, but Talisca himself has also claimed that Jose Mourinho is a personal fan of his.

On loan from Benfica, the midfielder has matched Babel for goals in the Champions League.

Perhaps a legacy of the mid 1990s, Turkish clubs often have a reputation in European football as one to avoid that has often been exaggerated in the 21st century. But Besiktas and their band of journeymen are so far giving reason to believe they could cause an upset given the chance.

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